Monthly Archives: December 2013

Au Revoir Champions League


Marseille play their last European game of the season tonight as they face German side Borussia Dortmund. OM are hoping to avoid becoming the first former European Champions to end their group campaign on 0 points, whereas Dortmund need a win to secure their progression into the next round. In group F, the only certainty is that Marseille will finish bottom. Arsenal are likely to qualify as they already sit on 12 points, however, a big Napoli win and Dortmund win, could see them miss out and have to make do with 3rd place and the Europa League place it brings.

Marseille, of course have a new man in charge, former Sporting Director, Jose Anigo, who has managed the club before between 2001-2005. Elie Baup was given his marching orders after Friday’s defeat to Nantes. The defeat in itself, was not the sole reason as Nantes have been a formidable side at the start of this season, however, 5 other ligue defeats, 13 points adrift from 1st place, an abysmal display in the Champions League and generally poor performances all round left the club with little choice in sacking Baup, something many fans had been calling for since October. Anigo has European management experience, as he took OM to the Europa final in 2004, only to be beaten by Valencia, but it remains to be seen if he can inspire this squad to take on the might of Jurgen Klopp.

Anigo will need an immediate response from his threadbare squad if they are to avoid the indignity of finishing with 0 points as he has a host of senior players missing. Andre Ayew, Valbuena and Abergel are injured, while Nkoulou and Romao are suspended. As a result Baptiste Aloe and Momar Bangoura take their place in the match day squad, although they are unlikely to feature at any point. Anigo’s full squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Aloe, Cheyrou, Imbula, Thauvin, Lemina, Bangoura, Jordan Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa and Payet.

Now, nearly match fit, Rod Fanni may start at right back with Mendes taking the place of Nkoulou. In the past Anigo has made no secret of his dislike of Morel, so it could be expected that Mendy starts at left back. For consistency, the midfield and forward players are likely to be set up in banks of 3 with Cheyrou, Imbula and Lemina playing behind, Payet, Gignac and Thauvin. It will be interesting to see if Anigo plays this way as OM struggled in this set up against Arsenal last time out and Dortmund are more than capable of playing possession and passing football too.

Likely line-up and formation:


Fanni Diawara Mendes Mendy

Lemina Cheyrou Imbula

Payet Gignac Thauvin


The Champions League is likely to bring a welcome break for Klopp and his team as in the Bundesliga, they have lost 3 of their last 4 games (1-2 Wolfsburg, 0-3 Bayern, 0-1 Leverkusen) and are now a disappointing 10 points off 1st place. In the Champions League they have won 1 away game and lost the other. Klopp is likely to be without Gundogan, Schmelzer, Hummels, Bender and Subotic through injury, while Sahin is a doubt. Abameyang may make a return to French soil, however, this is likely to be from the bench.

The one positive for OM could be that the absence of Hummels and Subotic in defence means that BVB may have to play Manuel Friedrich in defence. Despite the 34 year old making nealy 150 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen over the past 6 yearsm he has only made 3 league starts with Dortmund this year.

Likely line-up and formation:


Piszczek Freidrich Sokratis Durm

Grosskreutz Kelh

Blaszczykowski Mkhitaryan Reus



The OM fans are likely to make this a memorable occasion, as at the minute it looks like it could be a while before we see Champions League football at the Velodrome again. The 2 automatic qualification spots will most likely go to psg and Monaco, and Lille seem streets ahead in consistent ligue form right now, for the 3rd play off spot. It would be a huge shame to miss out on Champions League football, particularly when the Velodrome is complete, however, we need to get the management structure in place, a competitive squad in place and get back to fighting for the domestic title, before we can even consider pushing for Champions League ¼ finals again.

Allez l’OM
Andrew (@aswanny84 @marseilleUK)

Lille 1-0 Marseille – 03/12/13 – Match Report

The game started amid a ferocious atmosphere with both teams matching each other for intensity early on. Thauvin took to his role as pantomime villain well and after a slow start began to make some good runs down the right, though the persistence of 3 Lille markers on him every time he got the ball, meant he wasn’t always as productive as in previous games. The same could be said for Valbuena and Payet who also struggled to get touches on the ball before being crowded out by the hard working Lille players.
Lille managed a few chances on goal with shots from distance from both Kalou and Balmont, the former should have managed more chances if it wasn’t for his persistent straying offside. Lille also had a number of corners in the first half that they should have managed better from.
Marseilles best chance of the first half came as Thauvin collected the ball in his own half. As he broke forwards he was eventually tackled near the edge of the Lille box. As the ball came loose to Cheyrou he played in Gignac. APG only just had time to turn and shoot before Enyeama stormed out of his goal to make the save.
In the second half Marseille took greater charge of the game. Pushing forwards on the right, left and particularly through the centre. The half chances that were created were often straight at Enyeama but the chance of the game for OM came as both Gignac and Thauvin were denied in close succession by Enyeama, who pulled off two wonderful saves to keep his clean sheet record intact.
The only notable events for OM after this was the departure of Valbuena and Payet through injury, Lille’s rough approach to these players eventually taking it toll. Valbuena, during the course of the game, had already been cracked by rugby player wannabe Balmont, before Kjaer basically threw him to the ground. The difference in stature and weight, meant that Valby was easily thrown over and landed awkwardly on his shoulder, neck and head, suffering a dislocated shoulder. Kjaer again escaped a booking despite the lack of any reason to be so aggressive. The referee also showed that he must have left his bollocks in the changing room along with his cards as he spoke to Girard for the 3rd time, without sending him from the touch line.
Thauvin was replaced at the end, and continued his role as pantomime villain as he applauded the Lille fans. Unfortunately, minutes later, in injury time the Lille fans were cheering again, as Roux netted a last gasp winner. A cross from behind Morel (yup), saw Roux sneak in behind Abdallah and net easily past Mandanda. Questions really have to be asked of the defence as to why Diwara and Nkoulou were so far out of position.
As the full time whistle blew though, far more pressing questions also need answering and addressing. Who will fill the gap left by Ayew, Payet and now Valbuena? Why is Cheyrou starting ahead of Imbula? Why is Morel in the squad? How long before Mendes can rightfully take his place in defence ahead of a rapidly declining and aging Diawara?
Marseille have the opportunity to get over this disappointment fairly quickly as they host Nantes on Friday night. The injuries won’t help against a team that are playing well and have surprised most this season.

Allez l’OM!

Lille v Marseille – Match Preview – 03/12/13

Marseille head north tonight as they face Lille in what is set to become a grudge match. Lille fans have long been preparing for the return of Florian Thauvin, but after yesterday’s incident at the airport, OM fans are rightly annoyed with the Lille fans now. Both teams are in good form and along with a white hot atmosphere, this game should be a cracker.

After managing to see off Montpellier on Friday making it 3 wins in a row. The man in form, Thauvin managed to score his 8th goal in 8 domestic and international games before Khalifa netted his forts for the club in injury time. Admittedly OM made hard work of the game, however, it was the win that was most important.
Rod Fanni makes a return to the squad after recovering from injury, although Andre Ayew is still out. The full squad is made up of Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Lemina, Valbuena, Thauvin, Jordan Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet.
Baup may bring Fanni back into the starting line up, but the rest of the starting line up should be the same as the 11 that started against Montpellier, with the two ex-Lille boys, Thauvin and Payet hoping to continue their excellent run of form.
Likely line up and formation:
Fanni Diawara Nkoulou Mendy
Romao Imbula
Payet Valbuena Thauvin

Lille have surprised many early this season by working their way into occupying 3rd and now 2nd place ahead of Monaco. Rene Girard’s squad ave won their last 2 games but are unbeaten in 10 and haven’t conceded a goal in Ligue 1 since mid September. There is no doubt that this will be OM’s biggest test if the season so far needing to play well on the pitch and also keep the right mentality and attitude around the whole Thauvin affair.
Girard is without Mendes, Ruiz and Bereira. The Lille squad is made up of: Enyeama, Elana, Sidibé, Kjaer, Basa, Rozehnal, Souaré, Jeanvier, Mavuba, Balmont, Gueye, Martin, Delaplace, Meïté, Kalou, De Melo, Rodelin, Roux, Origi.
I’d expect that Lille will play with slightly less width than OM, but will look to get in behind the OM defence as they near the final third. Montpellier tried this last week, but lacked the composure to play good balls and were unable to latch on and finish any of the chances.
Probably line up and formation:
Sidibe Basa Kjaer, Souaré
Balmont Mavuba Gueye
Roux Kalou

The outcome of this game could help or hinder both teams Champions League credentials, with a draw perhaps being the best way of keeping the pressure on both psg and Monaco. Neither side will hope for a draw and hopefully we will see some real Ligue 1 passion with both teams battling it out for a win.

Allez l’OM